Borderlands 3 Arms Race Tips for Beginner

Unfamiliar with the game's arms race mode? Our Borderlands 3 Arms Race Tips for Beginner guide provides essential information tailored for you.

If you don’t know much about the arms race mode in the game, the information in our guide is for you.

Arms Race Gamemode for Beginners

This Guide will give a run down of the Arms Race gamemode for new players. Giving locations for drops and advice for getting out of the Stormblind Complex with your life and loot!

What is Arms Race?

Arms Race! This is the Borderlands series’ take on the battle royale format. But fear not, this isnt a PvP hellscape like most battle royales, but rather a PvE experience that can be enjoyed with up to 3 friends.

You can access the Stormblind complex by having DLC 5 Designers Cut which is included in the Season Pass 2. Without Season Pass 2 you cannot access the Arms Race or the loot that is associated with it.

Arms Race takes place on its own unique map located on Pandora, and features enemies from Pandora as well as Maliwan enemies that are encountered throughout Borderlands 3’s story alongside a Brand New Boss ‘Heavyweight Harker’.

When beginning a round of Arms Race, you will drop into the arena without any of your gear, skills, or guardian level. It is a test of your gun skill and mechanics rather than a test of your characters gear and build like the rest of the end-game content. This means that you can go into arms race at any point of your playthrough and come out with on level gear.

Some of the gear that can be found in Arms Race is some of the best in the game so it is well worth becoming familiar with how to get better at the mode as well as where each piece of gear can spawn in order to obtain this strong gear at an endgame level without the pain of randomness.

The Stormblind Complex

The Stormblind Complex is the arena that Arms Race takes place in. You can access this area by claiming the quest from Axton and Salvador located on Pandora called “Arms Race; Introduction”. It can be accessed from the poster for Arms Race located by the Quick Change station on Sanctuary 3 after completing the beginning of the story on Pandora and launching Sanctuary.

The first time you arrive at Stormblind you will have to activate 3 generators in the Dome before being able to press the button to start Arms Race. Every run after you can just hit the keyboard on the platform to begin the countdown.

Stormblind is a big map with dedicated spawns for Red Chests as well as rotating spawns for Large Chests and Gun Vendors in order to obtain gear throughout your run. You will always spawn next to a chest when you land, make sure to look around for it as this will give you gear off drop. This chest will always have 2 shields and 2 guns.

There are extract stations that spawn around the map randomly, and one guaranteed to spawn after killing Harker. The station that spawns after defeating Harker will let you extract 6 pieces of gear while the random ones throughout the map only allow you to extract 2. You can use multiple extraction stations throughout a run so dont hesitate to drop off gear throughout your run!

This is the map of Stormblind, but it can be access at all times from your ECHO device to see where you are and where the storm is. Harker is always in the middle of the map, and his spawn will never change. The storm will always allow you a path to Harker, but remember dont wait too long or the storm will close on top of you!

How to play Arms Race

Arms Race is really a race against the storm that is closing in on you. At allotted time periods the ring will change and the storm will slowly close in. Between each ring close you will be given a period of respite in order to progress further in the ring and fight for more and more loot. The final rings will always allow a path to the final Boss, Harker, as the only way to extract loot and leave the map is by defeating him.

Weapons found in Arms Race must be extracted in order to take them back to Sanctuary and be used regularly by your character. If you dont extract your loot or you die before you can it will be lost forever, so dont be scared to extract some good gear early if you feel like you might not be able to extract.

Any Arms Race weapons from DLC 5 will not be able to be used during your run, but any other gun can. It encourages you to extract the gun to see how it works and discover its gimmicks instead of writing it off in Arms Race. Remember, since you have none of your skills, some guns will be better or worse than what you may be used to with your build. Just because your playing Moze doesn’t mean that the Bologna Poney you picked up will be good, instead you may be better off with that blue COV assault rifle.

Each dedicated Red Chest has its own dedicated drops for certain loot from the Arms Race DLC and Harker can drop any gun, shield, grenade, class mod, and artifact from the DLC. He is always guaranteed to drop 1 DLC 5 item when defeated. All the Red Chests around the map will be heavily defended and you cant just run in and grab the loot without first throwing down with the scavs who are ready to put their lives on the line. Some of the chest may require you to fight increasingly difficult waves of enemies to unlock the chests, while other may only require you to pop a few Badass skulls to get them.

So, what’s the best strategy?

Well, there isnt one! The beauty of Arms Race is that its a test of your skill and can be approached loads of ways! just make sure you fill your ammo up at a vendor and you have the highest SDUs available before starting a run as your ammo carries over.

My recommendation is that you pick one of the Chests on the outer reaches of the map and go there first, dont be afraid to run past some enemies without fighting them because the chances are at the start you dont have good enough gear to mow through them all quickly. The chests that are far out are the ones with dedicated drops so we should go for them first. Once we start to get better gear, work your way into the centre towards Harker, where we can pick up extra chests and maybe hit up a few vendors or extraction stations along the way.
If you are a crazy good gunslinger and comfortable in your aim and the movement in the game, maybe take on a few more bad guys at once to test your skill. But if you aren’t, its more than OK to just take your time and pick off enemies one by one.

Play with your Guns! some guns are better at range picking off stragglers and some want you to be brass deep in the action. Make sure to use elemental damage and weaknesses to your advantage. You will find all elements on guns in the Complex so make sure your stripping shields with Shock and melting flesh with Fire damage. White guns can feel like legendaries in this mode if you match up elements properly. You should use all weapons at your disposal. A white tediore can be a lifesaver in Arms Race, and COV weapons are great to mow down a lot of enemies.

You dont have to be in the Complex for the whole duration, you can rush a chest and dip before the second ring closes if you just want to farm for gear or you can clear as much of the map as possible and stick around until the end if that’s the type of challenge you are after.
If you manage to extract a good piece of gear before fighting Harker, and want to farm for gear some people prefer to just die and jump back in a new gun. I like to fight Harker at the end anyway as he can give you another shot at the gun you want but its really up to you.

What gear can i get?

Arms Race offers a slew of gear with mixed levels of power and uses. Some of the gear is almost necessary for a budding vault hunter whilst others can be left on the Complex floor. This is not a dedicated item guide but i will list all the legendaries exclusive to Arms Race Below and bold the guns that are exceptionally notable;

  • Besker
  • Binary Operator
  • Boogeyman
  • Clockwork Res
  • Critical Thug
  • Dark Army
  • Deathrattle
  • Holy Grail
  • HOT Spring
  • Hotfoot Teddy
  • Infernal Wish
  • Kickcharger
  • Madcap
  • Plasma Coil
  • Tizzy
  • Toboggan
  • Torrent
  • Trickshot
  • Kensei
  • Eternal Flame
  • Spy
  • 3RR0R Cmdl3t

If a gun isnt bolded that doesn’t mean its bad, but some of the gear in this DLC are so good that they should definitely be checked out.

Below is also a map compiled by other community members with what gear is dedicated to each chest. This is most useful for farming gear late game, as you are able to run directly to the chest that may contain the gear you want instead of grabbing chests that only contain guns you dont want.

Remember, the Arms Race exclusive gear cannot be used in Arms Race itself, so make sure to pull out the gear and give it a try, you never know what will work in your build and playstyle.

Written by Colin

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